Mark E Smith and The Fall are currently having their back catalogue reassessed by Cherry Red Records. The latest in what looks like a long line of forthcoming releases is ‘1982’. Featuring 2 acclaimed albums, a clutch of session tracks and 2 live albums plus a fresh 4,000 word essay by Daryl Easlea, this collection is a majestically compiled dive into the vaults of this much lauded band.
Featuring jagged edgy guitar with simmering scowling vocals this collection is as you would expect from The Fall. Hex Enduction Hour and Room To Live were originally released via Kamera Records. The former saw the debut of the killer combination of dual drummers with low fi production with the cryptic lyrics of Smith, the release has stood the test of time, being one of the best indie releases of the period. Top Of The Pops pop product of the time would have turned their noses up at something like this. No doubt The Fall would have stuck two fingers back in their direction.
There is a punk edge to the opener The Classical, ‘message for ya! message for ya!’ screeches Smith, Jawbone and the Air Rifle fires bang on target with dangerous guitar riffs and frenzied pace changes. Hip Priest, as featured in Silence Of The Lambs, might not be your normal popular soundtrack filler, quite the opposite with some troubling, meteorological results. A great lyric features in Fortress/Deer Park ‘I had to walk through 500 European punks’ with album closer And This Day originally recorded as a 25 minute epic tour de force, sliced down to 10 minutes it remains the longest recording by the band.
The 7 tracks that make up Room To Live (Mark Riley’s last with the band), the Undilutable Slang Truth! as the sleeve proclaims has the band searching out their next victims. With lyrics covering Falklands War, TV pundits and rural living, seemingly no one is left alone as the weight of Smith’s words comes chiming down on its pending causality. Solicitor In Studio wields swords towards prime time TV ‘young dicks make TV! Get ‘em away from me!’. Seemingly with Riley out the window a change in commercial direction was around the corner, not to belittle that period of the band, but Room To Live appears to be the last of a certain harsher edge to the band.
With a host of Peel session tracks and live tracks featured in this mammoth box set, In A Hole live recording from their last show of a tour of Australia and New Zealand that features the classic line up of Steve Hanley (bass), Craig Scanlon (guitar), Karl Burns (drums) and Mark Riley (guitar) that attracts the final praise here. In a live setting the band were never about perfection but that’s part of the appeal. Just because they meant what they were playing was enough. Featuring a mixture of songs from the aforementioned albums the band improvise, elaborate and divulge the audience with extended shouting moments from Smith. 1982 might not be to the taste of all, but to the music buyer who wants it all with the taste of the finest butter on top, this is for you.
1982 can be purchased via the Cherry Red website